Gordon Strachan announced his first Scotland squad this week and for me their was one glaring mistake.
Many have pointed out that the inclusion of Rangers left back Lee Wallace is a bit of a gamble but I don’t see it that way. It gets people to stop asking the question ‘would Strachan select Rangers players in the lower leagues?’. Its also worth noting that this is only a home friendly against Estonia.
Friendly matches are the ideal opportunities to look at players and judge if they are up to the rigours of international football. If Wallace looks off the pace or is dodgy defensively in training then Strachan can put either Grant Hanley, Phil Bardsley or Charlie Mulgrew in at left back. He will then know that Wallace isn’t good enough for bigger games, or if he trains hard and plays well then equally the manager will know he can be selected in the future.
I am not really fussed on the Wallace issue, had Steven Whittaker, Stevie Hammell or Paul Dixon been selected ahead of him I wouldn’t have moaned either.
But as soon as the 28 man squad had been announced I was questioning the inclusion of Kenny Miller. Add the fact that both Johnny Russell and Leigh Griffiths were omitted in favour of Miller and I just find it a bizarre call from the new boss.
We all know what Kenny Miller can do in the dark blue. He has been a great servant for the ‘Tartan Army’ having picked up 65 caps and scoring 17 times for his country.
But he is now 33 and he hasn’t played a competitive match for Vancouver Whitecaps since they lost to LA Galaxy on the 1st of November 2012.
Now against Rangers, Johnny Russell once again showed what a talent he can be. He scored two good goals, both were well taken plus then there is his eager running which often caused the weak Rangers defence to panic.
He can move out wide or behind a frontman and that causes defenders to move out of position. That then frees space for the main striker to move into. I’d prefer to see him in that squad and see what he could do alongside or just behind the likes of Steven Fletcher or Jordan Rhodes.
Russell has a great ability to run directly at defences, causing problems and he has a terrific left foot like many talismanic Scotland figures of the past.
At 22 years old, 11 years younger than Kenny Miller, he is Scotland’s future. Unfortunately Scotland really do need to look at building a squad capable of getting to France Euro 2016 and not Brazil 2014.
That doesn’t mean that they don’t try and win the games in this qualifying campaign, we need the confidence boost but please lets have a look at the players on form and that are a few years younger. Those are the sorts of players that can rejuvenate an ailing squad.
By all means if Kenny Miller bangs in the goals while playing in the next MLS season then recall him. I don’t mind having a fit Miller if he is on form, there is no point killing off a cap career just because of age but the fact remains he doesn’t deserve to be in this particular squad.
Johnny Russell has 16 goals in 30 games for Dundee United and has attracted the interest of Celtic and a few Championship sides. Without doubt he is on form.
I would have also liked to have seen Russell in there just to help promote the SPL. Out of the 28 players selected for the Estonia fixture, only five play in the SPL. Four of which play for Celtic. So only Andy Webster of Hearts represents the SPL outside of that.
I can see why Gordon Strachan might be wary of Leigh Griffiths after all his front page exploits this term but again his form on the pitch means he merits an inclusion ahead of Miller. At Hibs Griffiths has 15 SPL goals but until he controls his off field problems I can’t see Strachan consistently selecting him.
In the past the Scots have had to rely on Miller because of the lack of any decent competition for his place. But now Scotland have Steven Fletcher, Jordan Rhodes, Ross McCormack, Jamie Mackie, Shaun Maloney, Steven Naismith and Craig Mackail-Smith who can all play up top.
So again do we really need Miller? Especially for this friendly match.
Strachan knows more than most what Kenny can do. He signed him and sold him whilst he was Celtic boss.
I just feel that this should have been a time for new players and to bring in a bit of a new era but with Kenny Miller getting in ahead of Johnny Russell, I am left feeling a bit disappointed by GordonStrachan’s first squad selection.
Posted on February 3rd, 2013 by scott
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